The voice of people

with MS in Europe

MS - fact sheet

For most Europeans diagnosed with MS, the condition involves an unpredictable, life long progression of complex symptoms.
  • In the European Union over 400 000 people have Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • MS affects people in the prime of life when families and careers are developing.
  • It is the most common cause of disability affecting young adults.  People are usually diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40.
  • MS is more common in women than men, with a ratio of  3:2. 
  • MS is the result of damage to the brain and spinal cord.  This interferes with messages between the brain and other parts of the body.
  • The most common form of MS is one where symptoms come and go.  For some people MS means gradually increasing disability.
  • Common MS symptoms include: blurred vision, extreme fatigue, pain, numbness in legs and hands, loss of movement and speech problems. 
  • Following diagnosis, many people with MS lose contact with health and social services for years
  • Increasing disability , compounded by lack of expertise in MS among professionals can mean that basic health problems such as depression, cognitive impairments, continence issues and sexual health all go unnoticed.
  • Palliative care skills are not always available to people whose MS is advanced and have complex physical and psychological needs.
  • Despite all research efforts, MS is not curable so far. Therefore, much more research on the causes and potential cure of MS is vital.
  • People with MS typically are keen to remain in employment for as long as possible, but have a progressive, degenerative, or fluctuating condition which means that they need to reduce/ adapt their hours and/ or adapt their working environment to accommodate changing needs.
  • It is vital, particularly if they are faced with increasing disability, that they can access co-ordinated care from all the professionals within a multi-disciplinary team, skilled and expert in MS.
  • There are very significant countrywide and region wide discrepancies in the provision and quality of services and support for people affected by MS across the European Union.
  • There is growing recognition that people affected by MS have a great deal to offer through their own experience and knowledge of their disease, to professionals working with them